Egyptians mark uprising anniversary with protests (+video)
The upheaval in Egypt, borne out of the Arab Spring, continues two years after former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
Two years after Egypt's revolution began, the country's schism was on display Friday as the mainly liberal and secular opposition held rallies saying the goals of the pro-democracy uprising have not been met and denouncing Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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With the anniversary, Egypt is definitively in the new phase of its upheaval.
From the revolt that began Jan. 25, 2011 and led to the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, the country has moved into a deeply divisive struggle between ruling Islamists, who say a string of election victories the past year gives them to right to reshape Egypt, and their opponents, who say Islamists are moving to take complete power.
Overshadowing their struggle is an economy in free-fall that threatens to fuel public discontent. The vital tourism sector has slumped, investment shriveled, foreign currency reserves have tumbled and prices are on the rise, with more pain likely in the coming months if the government moves to implement new austerity measures.
In Cairo's central Tahrir square, where the January 2011 uprising was born, and the area outside Morsi's palace in the city's Heliopolis district were rapidly filling up with protesters by Friday afternoon. There were similar if smaller crowds in central squares in the Mediterranean cities of Alexandria and Port Said as well as the Mehalla in the Nile Delta, Suez at the southern entrance of the Suez Canal, Assiut and Luxor in the south and Fayoum southwest of Cairo.
The crowds chanted the iconic slogans of the revolt against Mubarak, this time directed against Morsi — "Erha! Erhal!" or "leave, leave" and "the people want to topple the regime."
Clashes broke out for a second day on some side streets near Tahrir and police fired tear gas to disperse the young men throwing stones. There were also clashes in Alexandria and Suez, and In the Delta town of Menouf protesters blocked off railway lines, disrupting train services to and from Cairo. Some two thousand demonstrators also surrounded the colossal state TV and radio building in central Cairo, chanting slogans against Morsi and his Brotherhood.
The immediate goal of the protesters is a show of strength to push Morsi to amend the constitution, which was pushed through by his Islamist allies and rushed through a national referendum. But more broadly, protesters are trying to show the extent of public anger against what they call the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization Morsi hails from, which they say is taking over the state rather than setting up a broad-based democracy.
"I am asking everyone to go out and demonstrate to show that the revolution must be completed and that the revolution must continue," opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said in a televised message posted on his party's website.
"There must be a constitution for all Egyptians. A constitution that every one of us sees himself in it," said the Nobel peace Laureate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
Unlike in 2012, when both sides made a show of marking Jan. 25 — though, granted, not together — the Brotherhood stayed off the streets for Friday's anniversary. The group said it would honor the occasion with acts of public service, like treating the sick and planting trees. The Brotherhood's ultraconservative allies known as Salafis are also staying off the streets. Their absence may reduce, but not entirely remove, the possibility of violence.